Djibouti votes as president Guelleh seeks a 5th term

Djibouti votes as president Guelleh seeks a 5th term
Djibouti’s President Ismael Omar Guelleh casts his ballot during the presidential elections at the Ras-Dika district polling center in Djibouti, April 9, 2021. (Reuters)
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Updated 10 April 2021

Djibouti votes as president Guelleh seeks a 5th term

Djibouti votes as president Guelleh seeks a 5th term
  • Critics call the president a heavy-handed dictator, but others in Djibouti see him as a driving force in the country’s development and relative stability
  • More than 205,000 people are registered to vote in Djibouti, which has a population of over 600,000 — the country is a mix of ethnic Somali, Afar and Arab

MOGADISHU, Somalia: The Horn of African country of Djibouti went to the polls peacefully on Friday as President Ismail Omar Guelleh seeks a fifth term in the small but strategically important nation home to military bases for the United States, China and others.
The 73-year-old Guelleh faces just one challenger, the independent candidate and businessman Zakaria Ismail Farah, who halted campaigning early while asserting that he could not do so in safety. In protest, he appeared with his mouth taped shut.
The other opposition boycotted the vote. Final results are expected on Saturday. There was a heavy police presence around the polls.
Critics call the president a heavy-handed dictator, but others in Djibouti see him as a driving force in the country’s development and relative stability. The country is located on the Red Sea along one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
Guelleh has been in power since 1999 after the death of his predecessor, Hassan Guled Aptidon, the country’s first president. Djibouti won independence from France in 1977.
The president is widely expected to win another team that should be his last, according the constitution, which limits the presidency to those under the age of 75.
Guelleh told reporters days ago that he was no longer interested in power but was merely responding to the will of the people.
“It is my people, the Djiboutians, who asked me to run again and not leave them for the sake of the prosperity of the nation,” he said.
After voting, the president said, “May God be praised, it happened in a peaceful way and thank God, the people have participated in a very good way.”
More than 205,000 people are registered to vote in Djibouti, which has a population of over 600,000. The country is a mix of ethnic Somali, Afar and Arab.
“In a beautiful way we’re appreciating the voting, every vote and every five years, and today it happened in a beautiful way,” said one person at the polls, Naima Yusuf Kahin.


Extreme E set for first European round with Enel X Island X Prix in Sardinia this weekend

Extreme E set for first European round with Enel X Island X Prix in Sardinia this weekend
Updated 8 min 13 sec ago

Extreme E set for first European round with Enel X Island X Prix in Sardinia this weekend

Extreme E set for first European round with Enel X Island X Prix in Sardinia this weekend
  • Rosberg X Racing top Season 1’s table, while Andretti United Extreme E will look to close gap after winning Arctic X Prix in Greenland last time out

LONDON: Extreme E’s fourth race of its inaugural season, the Enel X Island X Prix, is set to take place at Capo Teulada in Sulcis-Iglesiente, Sardinia this weekend, from Oct. 23-24.

The first-ever electric SUV series launched in April with the Desert x Prix at AlUla, Saudi Arabia, with the Ocean X Prix following in Dakar, Senegal at the end of May, and the Arctic X Prix in Greenland in August.

Currently, Rosberg X Racing lead the Extreme E Season 1 standings.

The last race saw RXR’s winning streak broken by Andretti United Extreme E, who were joined on the podium by JBXE and ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team. RXR, leading the table on 93 points, could mathematically take the title in Sardinia, but X44 (84 points) and Andretti United Extreme E (76 points) will be looking to keep the championship alive into the last event of the season in the UK.

“Our Sardinian race is shaping up to be a true spectacle and I can’t wait to see the teams battling it out on the course for victory at our penultimate event of Season 1,” Alejandro Agag, founder and CEO of Extreme E, said. “Sardinia has a rich motorsport heritage and won’t be unfamiliar territory for some of our drivers, but the course will be one full of challenges.

“The island has been suffering at the hands of the climate crisis, and I’m really pleased our Legacy Programmes here will be two-fold, focusing on both the land and the ocean through reforestation in areas affected by wildfires, which are still so front of mind, and blue carbon through seagrass restoration and conservation,” he added.

Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Western Mediterranean and is well known for hosting motorsport events, most famously the Rally Italia Sardegna, which has been on the World Rally Championship calendar since 2004 and has been won by X44’s Sebastien Loeb four times.

The Enel X Island X Prix will follow the same format as the Arctic X Prix with qualifying taking place on Saturday, Oct. 23. There will be one session in the morning and one in the afternoon with each team completing two laps of the course, one per driver with a driver switch. The times recorded across the morning session will equate to classification points, meaning first place receives nine points, second place eight, third place seven and so on. The same then happens in the afternoon with classification points awarded on the same scale.

The combined total of these classification points provides the intermediate standings, and the remaining races will take place as follows:

— The teams will be listed first to ninth place based on the total combined points of each team’s two Qualifying runs.

— Teams placed in first, fifth and sixth progress to Semi-Final 1, where the top two finishers claim spots in the Enel X Island X Prix Final.

— Second, third and fourth from Qualifying go through to Semi-Final 2, where again the top two progress to the Enel X Island X Prix Final.

— The bottom three teams (seventh, eighth and ninth) head to the Crazy Race, with the winner reaching the Enel X Island X Prix Final.

— The Enel X Island X Prix Final features five cars.

The nine teams and 18 drivers are as follows:

ABT CUPRA XE — #125 — Mattias Ekström / Jutta Kleinschmidt

ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team — #55 — Carlos Sainz Sr. / Laia Sanz

Andretti United Extreme E — #23 — Timmy Hansen / Catie Munnings

SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing — #99 — Kyle LeDuc / Sara Price

XITE ENERGY RACING powered by myenergi — #42 — Oliver Bennett / Christine GZ

JBXE — #22 — Kevin Hansen / Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky

Rosberg X Racing — #6 — Johan Kristoffersson / Molly Taylor

Veloce Racing — #5 — Stéphane Sarrazin / Emma Gilmour

X44 — #44 — Sébastien Loeb / Cristina Gutiérrez


Yas Links to host Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for first time

Yas Links to host Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for first time
Updated 41 min 35 sec ago

Yas Links to host Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for first time

Yas Links to host Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for first time
  • The event was launched in 2006 and has been held at Abu Dhabi Golf Club ever since

ABU DHABI: Yas Links is set to host the 17th edition of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the first time ever from Jan. 20-23, 2022.

The European Tour has confirmed that the opening tournament of the 2022 Race to Dubai season will get underway with a Rolex Series event at the course, which is owned by Aldar and managed by Troon. The event was launched in 2006, and has been held at Abu Dhabi Golf Club ever since.

“I am very proud of our team who have been hard at work over the past two years to successfully deliver a series of extensive on-course improvements at Yas Links Abu Dhabi,” Mark Chapleski, president of Troon International, said in a statement.

“As the first true links style course in the Middle East, its current playability is second to none, and this is recognised globally thanks to its top 50 ranking on Golf Digest’s Top 100 courses in the world, “ he added.

“The course’s signature finishing holes on 16, 17 and 18 are regarded as one of the toughest trios in the UAE with the mangroves looming down the left of all three, and it will be fascinating to see how the pros approach them in January next year.”

News of Yas Links Abu Dhabi’s addition to the European Tour schedule from 2022 onward follows confirmation from the UAE authorities that people traveling to the emirate no longer need to show a negative COVID-19 test result to cross the border into the capital from Dubai.

With the authorities confirming that the COVID-19 infection rate in the emirate was just 0.2 percent of all recorded tests in September 2021, and with cases continuing to fall in October, Abu Dhabi is expecting visitor numbers to increase significantly.

Yas Links Abu Dhabi will offer first-class hospitality and entertainment activities for fans beyond the golf course itself, which was designed by Kyle Phillips and recently voted No. 1 in the region.

“The build up to the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is always very exciting, but 2022 will be even more special with a brand-new venue for us to sink our teeth into,” Yas Links Abu Dhabi Golf Course Manager Corey Finn said in a statement.

“Many of the European and PGA Tour players will kick-start their competitive year in Abu Dhabi hoping to tame our notoriously tricky coastal course,” he added.

“Working closely with the European Tour creates a special environment and this will be no different in terms of working with a new team at Yas Links Abu Dhabi, as we are all working towards the same goal; making the 2022 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship even bigger and better than what’s come before.”

Tyrell Hatton will need to produce another dominant performance at Yas Links Abu Dhabi if he is going to secure back-to-back titles.

In January 2021, the Englishman claimed the title after going toe-to-toe with four-time Major winner and Ryder Cup teammate Rory McIlroy throughout the week, eventually finishing four shots clear of a strong field to kick-start his year.


Lebanese parliament confirms election date as March 27 - sources

Lebanese parliament confirms election date as March 27 - sources
Updated 12 min 54 sec ago

Lebanese parliament confirms election date as March 27 - sources

Lebanese parliament confirms election date as March 27 - sources

CAIRO: Lebanon's parliament on Tuesday confirmed the legislative election date as March 27, sources told Reuters.

The earlier than usual date - elections were originally expected to be held in May - was being debated in order not to clash with the holy Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.
It means Prime Minister Najib Mikati's government has just a few months left in office as it tries to agree a financial recovery plan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) amidst a deepening economic meltdown.
Once a new parliament is elected, the Mikati cabinet will only act in a caretaker role until a new prime minister is given a vote of confidence and tasked with forming a new government.


Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek hit ‘Eternals’ red carpet

Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek hit ‘Eternals’ red carpet
Updated 19 October 2021

Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek hit ‘Eternals’ red carpet

Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek hit ‘Eternals’ red carpet

LOS ANGELES: Actors Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek brought Hollywood glamor to the world premiere of Marvel Studios’ latest comic book adaptation, “Eternals,” this week.

Directed by Chloe Zhao, who won best director and best picture for the film “Nomadland” at the Oscars earlier this year, “Eternals” boasts one of the most diverse casts of any Marvel movie.

Actress Salma Hayek arrives for the world premiere of Marvel Studios’ “Eternals” at the Dolby theatre in Los Angeles. (AFP)

“I hope it just starts to normalize what should have been there in the first place,” Jolie told Reuters. “I hope people watch these films in years to come and we don’t even think about it as being diverse.” 

The film stars Syrian refugee-turned-actor Zain Al-Rafeea as part of the star-studded cast, who plays the role of a villager who comes across the Eternals when they arrive on Earth.

Delayed a year due to the pandemic, “Eternals” will finally hit cinemas on Nov. 5 in the Middle East. 


'SGI signals a new era for mankind': How the Saudi Green Initiative Forum could change the world

'SGI signals a new era for mankind': How the Saudi Green Initiative Forum could change the world
Updated 19 October 2021

'SGI signals a new era for mankind': How the Saudi Green Initiative Forum could change the world

'SGI signals a new era for mankind': How the Saudi Green Initiative Forum could change the world
  • "We reject the false choice between preserving the economy and protecting the environment," says Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman

Since the early part of the last century, the image and fortunes of Saudi Arabia have been inextricably linked to a single element. The discovery and exploitation of oil transformed life in the KSA and positioned the country front and center in the petrol-driven global economy.

But times have changed over the last two decades. There is a recognition that oil and its derivatives, such as plastic and petrochemicals, are a primary cause of global warming, pollution and environmental catastrophe. In the KSA, air pollution from greenhouse gases shortens life expectancy by 1.5 years, while desertification and dust storms cause $13 billion of damage per year.

This bleak picture is a wake-up call, triggering a seismic shift across the world, away from carbon-sourced energy and hyper-consumption towards a cleaner and more sustainable way of life.

An energy leader for decades, the KSA is now positioning itself at the vanguard of environmental action. This effort is encapsulated in the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) – a national program to combat pollution and land degradation, increase vegetation cover, reduce carbon emissions and preserve marine life.

“The Kingdom fully recognizes its share of responsibility in advancing the fight against the climate crisis. Just as the Kingdom underpinned energy markets during the oil and gas era, it is going to become a global leader in forging a greener world,” says Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, patron of the SGI.

Having introduced the concept of the Circular Carbon Economy (a closed-loop system involving ‘4Rs’: reduce, reuse, recycle and remove) during its presidency of the G20 summit last year, Saudi Arabia is again taking a leadership role by hosting the forthcoming SGI Forum, to be held in Riyadh on 23-24 November.

The forum will, in its own words, “catalyze climate action in a regionally and internationally coordinated manner . . . bring together heads of state, public officials, business leaders, academic pioneers and environmental specialists. . . and drive action and spark innovative solutions to help tackle climate change.”

The event will help to define a road map that seeks to rally the Gulf region and contribute to agreed global targets by confronting climate change, increasing the use of clean energy, offsetting the impact of fossil fuels and protecting the environment.

The SGI is hugely ambitious. Ten billion trees are to be planted in the Kingdom over the next decade, rehabilitating some 40 million hectares of degraded land and bringing about a 12-fold increase from current tree covers. This is equal to four percent of the global initiative to limit the degradation of land, and one percent of the target to plant one trillion trees globally.

The percentage of protected areas in Saudi Arabia will reach over 30 percent of total land – about 600,000 square kilometers — exceeding the global target of 17 percent. Carbon emissions will be reduced by 130 million tons brought about by a plan to generate 50 percent of the Kingdom’s energy from renewables by 2030; and landfills – where 95 percent of waste is currently deposited — will be reduced to only five percent of waste.

In fact, the very notion of ‘garbage’ will become largely a thing of the past, as every form of waste becomes the raw material for a value-added product or energy source, in what is a key part of the ‘circular economy’ concept.

The SGI will work in tandem with the broader Middle East Green Initiative, which includes all GCC states along with other regional countries. The overall goal is to plant 50 billion trees across the Middle East — the largest reforestation program in the world, restoring 200 million hectares of degraded land. Carbon emissions from the region are to be reduced by over 60 percent, equal to more than 10 percent of the intended global reduction.

While Saudi citizens are used to a comfortable life of big cars and disposable products, it is clear that the SGI is already having a profound cultural impact.

“I think the SGI will open up a whole new era for mankind,” Ziyad Al Shiha, chief executive of the Saudi Investment Recycling Company, a leading agency in the circular economy, told Arab News.

“We're at a turning point now and it’s part of a major shift in the world economy. We are putting investment on the ground, working with corporations, small and medium-sized enterprises and with individuals — anything that will contribute to the circular economy.”

The greening of Saudi Arabia will involve changes to the daily lives of ordinary people, and an entirely new mindset. It will be young people, in particular, who forge a new path away from the habits of the past few decades.

“The SGI is an initiative by our government for a greener future for Saudi and the Middle East,” Fatimah Ahmad, an executive at the $500 billion NEOM megacity project, told Arab News.

She added: “The KSA is taking the lead to protect tomorrow from the climate change crisis. It’s one of the Vision 2030 projects I am personally excited about. It’s an ambitious, wild dream and I am sure it will come true very soon.”

Cynical voices might say that the decline of the oil era, and the global transition to a greener way of life, will have a detrimental effect upon the economy and standard of living in Saudi Arabia.

But Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has a more positive outlook. “We reject the false choice between preserving the economy and protecting the environment,” he declared when launching the SGI in March.

He added: “Climate action will enhance competitiveness, spark innovation, and create millions of high-quality jobs. Young people, both in the Kingdom and the world, are demanding a cleaner, greener and more inclusive future, and we owe it to them to deliver on this.”

The SGI Forum will no doubt generate more ideas, greater awareness and practical solutions in the drive towards a sustainable future in Saudi Arabia and across the world.